I have a question about the recipe "Nonna Gina's Stuffed Mushrooms" from Anna Francese Gass. I'd like to use bulk sausage instead of encased sausage. How much should I cook the sausage during the parboiling step?
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AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.
I've not made this recipe, but it looks like you want to mostly cook the sausage, because it's not likely to cook through from raw during the baking stage, once stuffed. I'd put the bulk sausage in a skillet and use a potato masher to break it into bits, and barely cover it with cold water; I'd then bring the water in the skillet to a boil and then cook off the water, stirring the sausage occasionally. This will render some of the fat while cooking the sausage. You'll also get some good browned bits in the skillet. Be sure to scrape them up.
In any event, you really don't want to put the bulk sausage in 3 cups of water. It's much easier to scrape from the skillet than to have to drain that bulk sausage through a colander, plus as mentioned, you'll render some of the fat, which will add flavor and also make the stuffed mushrooms less greasy. ;o)
As AJ says, the point of parboiling the sausage before removing it from the casings is to partially cook the sausage meat.
Another option for you would be to microwave your bulk sausage until it is partially cooked. You may want to do this in several batches on a covered plate (to avoid splattering).
Since all microwave ovens perform differently, you will need to use your best judgment based on your experience with your own microwave. For me, I would start at 30 seconds, examine the meat. If necessary, I'd then add additional time in 15 or 30 second increments.